Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design
Degree: Music Theatre - Performance
Year of graduation: 2012
In 2012, Camille Eanga-Selenge was rehearsing for her role in Queen for a Day when her agent called. The call was unexpected, and when she answered, he asked her if she had an apartment in New York City. Just like that, six months since finishing the music theatre program at Sheridan, Eanga-Selenge learned she was about to join the cast of The Book of Mormon, one of the biggest musicals of the last decade. She reacted the only way she could think of: she screamed. “It was so soon. Everything happened so quickly,” she recalls.
In 2012, Eanga-Selenge joined the touring company of The Book of Mormon as a swing and understudy for Nabulungi, the female lead character. Just a year later, she was asked to join the Broadway cast. And in early 2017, she will join the cast touring Australia as an ensemble member and understudy for Nabulungi. Her success has been serendipitous for someone who never thought she could earn a living pursuing her passion for performing. Eanga-Selenge has danced since she was a child, but she got hooked on musical theatre after playing Rizzo in her high school production of Grease. After graduation, she headed off to the University of Ottawa to do her degree in psychology. But she missed the stage. Luckily, one of her high school teachers encouraged her to apply to Sheridan. But with a background only in dance, she wasn’t prepared for the singing and acting components of the program.
“I had never taken voice lessons, so I had to cram on vocal technique,” she recalls, admitting the thought of singing in front of a crowd once made her feel sick to her stomach. “I feel completely naked when I sing. Dancing, you can definitely hide behind your art. Even though you’re baring your soul, your dance isn’t dependent on how you’re really feeling that day. Whereas your voice, if you’re sick, if you’re nervous, it comes out.”
Sheridan’s intense program, along with encouragement from her mom who saw her daughter’s potential, helped Eanga-Selenge conquer those fears. By the time she’d graduated, she’d performed in several Sheridan productions, including Rent and Oklahoma! She quickly learned to embrace her voice. “On stage, you’re not allowed to be afraid. The audience wants to hear you sing beautifully, to hear you tell a story.”
Today, there’s little time for nerves. On Broadway, she filled in for many roles in the show, and often didn’t know if she’d be going on stage until the last minute. She says Sheridan gave her the work ethic, and confidence, to succeed. “You have to know your stuff and you have to be OK with failing,” she says. “You’re going to step on people’s feet. You will not be perfect. I don’t worry about a lot … and (if I go on), I know the steps to do. That’s all you can do. I find it fun.”